When One Boulder Company Used Architecture to Express a Business Philosophy, Sales, Confidence and Employee Happiness Grew

Boulder, Colorado – (February 7, 2007) – When architect Dominique Gettliffe began designing a commercial space for FloorCrafters Hardwood Floor Company, his approach went straight to the bottom line. Three areas make up the FloorCrafters Space — showroom, workshop and office — and Gettliffe wanted his design to reveal the work that takes place in each area, as well as how the areas function as a whole. We wanted to show off FloorCrafters’ competence and skill as hardwood floor people, says Gettliffe. “FloorCrafters sells a service and a process, and this project is a physical expression of their process.” Since moving to the architecturally remodeled space two and one-half years ago, says owner Sherri Harrison, the business has become “more upscale and viable.” In the first years after the move, the business realized an increase of $500,000 in sales. Harrison attributes this to what the architecture has brought out.

What is important to business in this case, explains Gettliffe, principal of Boulder-based Gettliffe Architecture, is that customers have the opportunity to see the workmanship that goes into their purchase. Customers, not to mention employees, have the satisfaction of seeing every part of the operation. “You know what is happening behind the walls,” says Gettliffe. “It stands out as a different approach in setting, mentality and the way of doing business.” He continues, “It affects how information is passed and people are informed. It contrasts with [businesses that] hide what they do, not wanting people to see.”

Gettliffe says his intention was to create a “continuum of space” with a distinct goal: delineate yet visually connect the three work areas and let the public view how they function. The architecture accomplishes this by making use of the following features:

–A glass overhead garage door links, while forming a boundary between, the showroom and workshop. The door, whether open or closed, simultaneously connects and differentiates the two areas.

–A counter sets the boundary between the office and workshop. According to Harrison, the counter prevents too many people from crowding into the office, yet allows easy communication between the office and workshop. On the workshop side of the counter is a kitchen, a gathering place for everyone, which, thanks to the open design, says Harrison, attracts attention. “People come in all the time and say, What a great space. What a great kitchen.”

–The element that connects yet delineates office from showroom is also a counter. This buffers the reception area, opens it to artwork on display in the office, and facilitates easy interaction between customers and office personnel.

Before the remodel, the space FloorCrafters now occupies was a north Boulder warehouse. Literally thinking outside the box of a building, Gettliffe designed the space as a swirl, or rotation, at the center of which is a display wall for hardwoods. The rotated layout, he says, is important to holistically integrating the business’s three areas.

Questions to Ask about How Design Affects Business

Designing to commercial needs, says Gettliffe, is different than the requirements for residential architecture, which he describes as “more emotional.” He continues, “Commercial architecture is more about an investment. You consider the design’s impact on the business. One has to ask, “How is this going to be helping or optimizing the business?”

He advises business owners to ask the following in the design of their commercial space:

–What do our clients see when they come to our place of business? Why are they coming to us?

–What do we want to communicate to our clients when they come to our place of business?

–How can we use our space to keep clients interested, engaged and wanting to stay?

–How do we design to the comfort of our employees? How conducive is our space to doing good work?

–How can the design make daily functioning more efficient?

Design, Gettliffe reminds his clients, must embrace business routine and what he calls the “practical quantitiesâ” of a project. He analyzes the fine details of how a business functions in order to get the answers to questions such as:

–What is the square footage required for each business function?

–Where can company cell phones be recharged?

–Where can the business show off its craft and tools of the trade?

Harrison comments on the results of these and other architectural design considerations, “[The remodel] has made an industrial section [of Boulder] look upscale. We are now projecting an upscale business to attract the right clients.” She adds, “We are not a hole in the wall.” FloorCrafters, which Harrison and her husband, Clarence Harrison, started in Boulder 20 years ago, is at Highway 36 and Lee Hill Drive in north Boulder. Readers of the Boulder Daily Camera voted FloorCrafters “best floorcovering store in Boulder County” in 2005 and 2006.

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